As a Lebanese-born American woman and mother, my cross-cultural experiences inform my art. I have dedicated my work to exploring issues of personal and collective identity through photographs of female adolescence and womanhood – both in the United States where I live and the Middle East where I am from – in an effort to focus on notions of identity and individuality, within the context of the underlying universality of these experiences.
In my continuous exploration of what it is like to be a girl and a woman today, in a world that poses endless questions on girls and women of all backgrounds, I am focusing in this project on young women in their late teens/early twenties. They are the ages of my daughters – they are leaving the cocoon of home, entering adulthood and facing a new reality they are often not prepared for, a humbling reality most often harder than they expected and less glamorous than what is portrayed on social media. Whereas in A Girl and Her Room, I photographed young women in relationship to the curated and controlled environment of their bedrooms, I am photographing them here in the larger environment they find themselves in after they leave home, the more global backdrop that now constitutes their lives in transitions – being in the lush landscapes of rural Ohio, or the textured backdrops of Beirut
I want to portray the raw beauty of their age, their individuality, their physicality, their texture, and their mystery. I want to photograph them, the way I, a woman and a mother, see them: beautiful, alive. I want to create a personal narrative with them. The process is about collaboration and empowerment, and the photo session always evolves organically as the women become active participants in the image-making process.
My work addresses the states of 'Becoming' – the fraught beauty and the vulnerability of growing up – in the context of the visceral relationships to our physical environment and universal humanity. By collaborating with women in the United States and in the Middle East ‐ and while still looking to reveal the individuality of each young woman ‐ I focus on our essence, our physicality and the commonalities that make us human, ultimately highlighting how female subjectivity develops in parallel forms across cultural lines.
A caravan of thousands of asylum seekers reached Tijuana in Mexico in November 2018, hoping to gain asylum in the US. The caravan was self-organized and swelled in numbers along the way as it made its way from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, heading toward the Californian border. This particular caravan has become a symbol of the Central American migration crisis. Tens of thousands of Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans, many of them unaccompanied minors, have arrived in the US in recent years, seeking asylum from the region’s skyrocketing violence, political instability, poverty and many other factors. This region known as the Northern Triangle was rocked by civil wars in the 1980s and decades of U.S. intervention, leaving a legacy of violence and fragile institutions.
I consider my works a kind of documentation of a city or a specific neighborhood. This project is not about the pictures I take but about the life that emanates from a moment of observation; a moment of pause. For the “Time Lapse” project I sit on a single spot, unnoticed, for about 2 hours, photographing a sequence of people passing by against one unique background. These quotidian gestures, combined, create a unique narrative of life by a wall in a place in the world. It's an ongoing project that includes cities in Spain, USA, Dominican Republic, China, Italy, Portugal, Cuba, France, UK, Color prints different sizes from 20x30 - 40x60
The 2019 Editor’s Choice projects were as diverse and varied as the photography field itself. There are so many fantastic projects underway that I viewed during the judging process. I have a renewed faith in the future of our medium.
The first place work by Rania Matar entitled “SHE” is a glorious portrait series produced in collaboration with the feminine subjects that explores what it looks like to be a girl or woman in the modern world. The stunning settings and poetic beauty of these images captured my imagination and inspired my heart.